BARTOW, Fla. - A Florida teacher was suspended, reassigned to a different school and now faces charges after being accused of biting two students over a jar of pickles.
A spokesperson with Polk County Public Schools in Bartow, Florida, said a complaint affidavit of two counts of battery was filed against Rhonda Rice, who used to be a teacher at Bartow Middle School.
According to the affidavit, last October, Rice was in her classroom when she observed two students taking items from the kitchen/storage area. Rice then grabbed a jar of pickles off the shelf and the students thought she was taking them for herself.
One student grabbed the jar in an attempt to place it back on the shelf when Rice bit him in order to release the jar, according to the affidavit. The second student then also tried to grab the jar and Rice bit him as well.
The school district said last November, the two students reported Rice. Rice told the school district she was "playing with both students over the jar of pickles" and when they grabbed it, she "licked their arms to get them off."
One of those students is Kathy Toro’s 15-year-old nephew. She didn’t want to release his name to the media.
Toro said her nephew and another student were putting up a jar of pickles, and Rice bit them both on their forearms to release the jar.
"My thoughts on the situation was, ‘What was she thinking!’" Toro told FOX Television Stations. "When the school notified us of the incident, we immediately took action and I wanted charges brought up against her."
Toro said her nephew is doing fine but was "shocked, to say the least."
"She needs to be put in jail and learn from her mistake," Toro continued. "She can’t put any part of herself on any child."
Last December, the school district sent Rice a letter saying that she was suspended without pay for three days. She was also transferred to Sleepy Hill Middle School. The letter said the involuntary transfer was a part of the teacher collective bargaining agreement.
The state attorney office said Rice is expected to appear in court March 31.
FOX Television Stations has reached out to Rice for a comment.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.